The importance of setting priorities

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After many years of work and study in a disorganized way, I finally learnt how important and efficient it is to set priorities in order to meet our goals and expectations. The feeling I have after this lesson? I feel I finally own my time.

Setting priorities is not always easy. It comes with a determined mindset and with responsibility. Being responsible for your own time is so important and not easy things to do.

I didn’t understand in the past why other people were doing more things than I did in the same amount amount of time. I wanted to be productive too, but no matter how much I worked, my results were not what I was expecting. I thought that quantity would produce the productivity I so much yearned for. However, it was quality, in our case establishing priorities, what mattered the most, the element that had the power to produce great results.

Seeing that my results weren’t matching my efforts, I started to write to do lists for a better organization. Back then I didn’t know that lists could help one become more organized, but somehow I felt the urge to write down what I wanted to do in a day for example. Step by step I learnt how to write better lists, what to write on those lists and how to deal with those situations were I didn’t finish everything on my list. I learnt that too much can destroy all the progress and that sometimes to do lists can become overwhelming, which can lead to losing one’s motivation.

I experienced almost everything with lists. I guess in my case, it wasn’t only about writing lists. It was all about writing down my goals. I suppose it is also related to my learning style. When I start learning something new, I have to write notes or to draw any scheme as a visual translation of words according to my own logic. Also I find writing extremely helpful whenever I have to deal with making decisions. Priorities are also decisions we make for ourselves.

Setting priorities mustn’t be something that stops you from change. Priorities must be flexible. As we change, our priorities change too. It’s the right thing to do. When I was in high school, my top priority was always related to good grades and awards. As a student I knew grades were important, but knowledge and experiences became my top priorities. Now my priorities are health and interior peace. And yes! I had to write these down.

While writing down your goals and priorities might not suit your style or organization method, there are plenty of other strategies you can use to prioritize what is the most important thing for you. I want to share with you one method that was absolutely mind-blowing for me and it really showed me what I really care about right now. This method is known under the name of Stephen Covey’s four quadrants for time management, but I learnt about it from my best friend. We played it like a little game and it is an efficient method to get to own your time.

All you have to do is to split a small piece of paper into 4 equal quadrants. Then you have to write in every square, in the order of importance, 4 of the things that mean the most to you. For the next step, you will start eliminating one by one the fourth, the third and the second element from your list (I was sad when I was eliminating my other elements because they were important too :)). Now you are left with the first element which is the most important and usually the one you sacrifice the most. Mine was health, the most important thing for me, but also the one I sacrifice the most for things that can be done slowly, for things that can be replaced. It was an extremely valuable lesson for me, one that I feel happy to share with you.

I am curious about other ways of prioritizing goals or time management tips and tricks you might use. So feel free to share with me your methods in the comments.

Stay healthy and positive and I’ll see you around.

Productivity vs. slow living

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Living a slow paced life is often seen as the opposite of productivity. I think it is because slow is often seen as doing nothing. But this is far from the truth and it took me a while to realize this.

Actually I used to believe the same thing. Rather than a prejudice I think I was afraid of not doing my best, afraid of being unproductive. Also, what brought me closer to my idea of slow paced life is the continuous fatigue that almost ruined my health, not a high level of productivity that you might think I had, while reading this. I realized only later that even if I was exhausted, I wasn’t exactly the most productive person. This is very close related to the principles of prioritization and time-management. Stress management and mental health care are also very important pieces in this puzzle. I used to do things the wrong way, but at least I know it now and I am trying to fix things.

I talked before here about the importance of journaling in my life and how this practice helped me understand and know myself better. I am a to-do-list person since I was young. I loved having long lists about anything and I thought that keeping myself busy would only bring me benefits. Little I knew about the truth. Long lists and the pressure I put on myself only harmed my physical and mental health.

Today I am the same to-do-list person. The difference is that I have changed my mindset and my approach. Today I write better lists, with only the most important things I want to do every day.
• My lists are now shorter, and even when I put more on the list, I prioritize the most important things.
• I became more flexible and I forgive myself when I can’t finish the things on my list.
I allow myself to begin with what I am most comfortable doing first. I don’t try to get the elephant out of the room.
• I adapt my lists based on the needs I have in a certain day.
• I don’t look specifically for productivity but for self-satisfaction.

Today I believe that you can be productive while living at a slower pace. For example, if today I wanted to clean my room and I actually did it, I would be happy that I succeeded, even if on my list there was also a plan to clean the kitchen. This is also productivity in my eyes. But more than productivity, it’s my mind that is at peace because today I did something too. I receive satisfaction from doing my best every day. Also, the idea of productivity is relative and every person sees productivity in his/her own way. Thus, more important than trying to be as productive as other people are is to find what means productivity for you and to find your own way of doing it.